Last week, 462 prime southern cattle exported to Northern for direct slaughter in local beef processing plants, according to the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC).
This brings the total for the year to date to 11,710 head, an increase from the 7,713 prime cattle imported during the same period in 2019.
The LMC noted that there has also been an increase in the level of cows imported for direct slaughter during 2020 to date, with 5,208 head imported during 2020 to date, up from 1,826 head during the corresponding period last year.
“While the level of cattle import from ROI for direct slaughter has increased strongly, the number of cattle being taken in from GB for direct slaughter has declined.”
During 2020 to date 149 prime cattle and 1,324 cows have been imported into Northern Ireland from GB, back from 430 prime cattle and 2,582 cows during the same period last year.
“Stronger supplies of cattle for slaughter in ROI, combined with tighter domestic supplies in NI, have contributed to the uplift in the level of cattle imports from ROI for direct slaughter in local plants.”
This imbalance in supply and demand has also contributed to an increase in the number of cattle being imported from ROI for further production on local farms, it added.
Cattle for breeding
During 2020 to date, 29,426 cattle have been imported from ROI for further breeding and production on local farms, more than double the 14,192 animals imported during the corresponding period in 2019.
“It is also the highest level of import recorded during the first nine months of the year since 2010.”
While some of the cattle imported during 2020 to date are destined to be cows in both the NI suckler and dairy herd, a significant proportion will be utilised for beef production, according to the LMC.
At the end of September 2020, there were 18,217 imported beef sired cattle aged under 30 months on NI farms, an increase from 8,007 head at the end of September 2019.
There were also 10,833 dairy-sired males under 30 months on local farms at the end of September 2020, up from 7,620 head at the end of September last year.